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Marseniopsis
sp. #1
 
Marseniopsis sp. #1
Maximum size: 6 mm.

Identification:  This species has a tall, firm reddish or yellowish body variously spotted with brown and white. Six prominent ridges run from the margin to the apex and define a roughly hexagonal apical depression.

Natural history:  Marseniopsis sp. #1 appears to be a moderately common species in silty Halimeda kanaloana beds at depths of 6-11 m (20-36 ft). Rarely, it may be found in moderately protected rocky habitat at 3-6 m (10-20 ft). The red form may feed on a similarly-colored tunicate that is found in the same habitat. (Note 1)

Distribution:  Maui.

Taxonomic notes:  It was first recorded in Hawaii from Napili Bay, Maui by CP on Sept. 12, 1998 (yellow form). There's some chance that the yellow and reddish forms might be different species but the similarity in markings on the underside and the prevalence of a red to yellow axis of variation in the family support lumping.

Photo:  CP: 5 mm: Maalaea Bay, Maui; Oct. 22, 2007.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  In 2015, the population of the red tunicate in the Halimeda beds appeared to be much lower than in previous years. Meanwhile, several colonies of an otherwise similar yellow tunicate were seen. This observation was accompanied by the collection of a pair of yellow/yellowish animals, strengthening support for the hypothesis that their color is derived from their food.
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